L.A. Times Magazine Story From 1988 Predicts Life in 2013

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 15 2013 5:05 PM

L.A. Times Magazine Story From 1988 Predicts Life in 2013

The Los Angeles skyline in 2010.

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

If you haven't yet, go check out this 1988 issue of the Los Angeles Times Magazine that predicted what life would be like for Angelinos in 2013.

- Automatic water heaters and coffee makers
- Cars with a "central computer" that includes "electronic navigation or map systems"
- Teleconferencing from home on your computer
- Fiber optic cable networks
- The popularity of collagen and plastic surgery
- Using computers in classrooms in place of notebooks and projector screens


- A "staggered work plan" mandated by Los Angeles County to avoid overcrowding downtown.
- Automated baking: "the oven switches itself on to bake a fresh batch of cinnamon rolls."
- A "personalized home newspaper" that is automatically printed off your personal computer
- 200-story, earthquake-proof, mega-high-rise buildings in downtown Los Angeles
- "Billy Rae," the " mobile home robot" with a synthetic Southern drawl that rouses the family with a not-terrifying-at-all, "Hey, y'all—rise an' shine!" And he only cost $5,000!
- "Newfangled Indian cigarettes." Say what?
- Mandatory exercise required by employers (though libertarians are warning us about this one)
- To listen to music or watch a movie, you need a laser disc, or you need to call your cable company to request the media over cable lines. This whole story sort of misses the fact that Internet access has trumped the need to use of cable and phone lines.

And one prediction noticeably absent from the 1988 L.A. Times Magazine story: That the L.A. Times would be embroiled in a hacking scandal involving a former Tribune Co. employee.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Emma Roller is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter.


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